Changing Landscapes

Blog / Changing Landscapes

Greetings from majestic Sheridan Wyoming! Ok, so admittedly this isn’t really a “landmark” destination;image (1) but ever since we departed from Chicago a week or so ago, things have gotten more remote and today is the first chance we have gotten in front of a computer. Since our “vacation from vacation” weekend in Chicago, we have pumped through 1200 more miles seeing the best of what Illinois, Iowa, and South Dakota have to offer. Making it across the country, through back roads and state highways has really made us appeciate the nuanced differences between each state.

imageI’ll be honest, when thinking of Illinois our thoughts do not often stray outside of Chicago. So with little knowledge we set out into Northwest Illinois expecting flat farmlands. We were right about the farmlands, but totally blindsided by the rolling hills. Towns became quite spread out too which made finding water tricky in the heat. Despite the distance we still encountered some suburban areas with big box retail shops with frequency. It was also here that we left the smaller farms we had enjoyed out east and entered into corn and soybean 160+ acre plots. Sadly, there is not much to snack on at these farms.

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Moving onto Iowa we were thinking it had to flatten out, come on – it’s Iowa! All we can say is that we were naive and along with the corn and soybean farms, the hills were there too. In addition we were introduced to some heavy odors from cattle and pig farms (Lesson learned: do not try to eat a granola bar while passing through these farms). Our route also became comprised of almost only small towns with historic downtown areas separated by massive farms. The trickiest thing about this state was our introduction to dirt roads. When trying to navigate your way across a state like this sometimes what Google Maps thinks is a road is far from it. This can prove pretty tricky and definitely tacked on some miles as we searched high and low for pavement.

Out of the corn fields and into cattle country, we embarked on South Dakota. Here the towns continued to spread further and further away and without the high corn stalks the land was quite expansive with rolling hills stretching miles beyond what the eye can see. It really set in how far out we were as most towns hosted populations less than 300 people and the town center consisted of one storefront that functioned as a post office, convenience store, restaurant and gas station. As we moved across the state and into the Badlands, the elevation kicked up a bit but the awe-inspiring scenery helped cushion any pain and lack of oxygen. The Black Hills were well, hilly, but also a host of amazing sights including Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial and some really cool caves (pun intended).

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As we continue our trek, Wyoming has continued the ongoing trend of remoteness coupled with expansive ranges of hills. Yesterday we biked 110 miles, seeing only one convenience store along the entire trip. On the plus side we did see some wild antelope and beautiful red rock hills (that’s consolation for dehydration, I think?). But seriously, moving west has brought such amazing sights that more than make up for the lack of convenience of the eastern states. We take off tomorrow for our first try at these Rocky Mountains, so wish us luck and we’ll catch up again in Montana!

Take care,

Dol & Dar

Blog / Changing Landscapes

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